Singapore is to amend the Employment Act which will see employment conditions such as working hours and overtime pay protected. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told Parliament on Monday that about 430,000 more professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) will be covered under the Employment Act when it is amended to remove the S$4,500 salary cap. “The exceptions are public servants, domestic workers and seafarers who are covered separately, such as by other Acts due to their nature of work,” Mr Lim added in his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate. The removal of the salary cap and other amendments to Singapore’s main labour law will be introduced in Parliament later this year for implementation by April 2019. With the revisions, these PMEs will enjoy core employee benefits under the Act which include redress for wrongful dismissal, public holiday and sick leave entitlements, timely payment of salary and allowable deductions. Currently, only Singaporeans earning under S$4,500 come under the Act’s core provisions. Mr Lim said Singapore’s workforce is changing fast with more PMETs and fewer rank-and-files and the trend would continue with PMETs expected to make up 65 per cent of the local workforce from the current 56 per cent.
The proposed changes to the Act comes after a month-long public consultation in January. With changes to the salary cap, more non-workmen employees will see stronger protection of their rights. Currently, additional protection that covers hours or work, overtime pay and rest days are accorded only to workmen earning up to S$4,500 and non-workmen earning up to S$2,500. The salary cap for non-workmen, who are typically white-collar rank-and-file workers such as clerks, will go up from S$2,500 to S$2,600. The enhancement will cover half of the workforce. In terms of overtime pay, the salary cap for non-workmen will also be revised upwards from S$2,250 to S$2,600. About 100,000 non-workmen will benefit from this increase. Additionally, disputes between employees and employers will be made easier to tackle. The Employment Claims Tribunal will start hearing claims related to wrongful dismissal, which was previously heard by the Minister for Manpower. This will be on top of salary-related disputes that are currently heard by the tribunal if unresolved by mediation by the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management.